Plant Breeding: One of the cool sciences behind our food

Janice Person from the podcast 'Grounded by the Farm' spoke with Associate Professor Lee Hickey about some of the cool science that helps advance the seeds farmers plant and the foods on our plates.

Click here for a detailed transcript of Grounded by the Farm podcast episode 207.

What is plant breeding?

Lee was able to put the concept of what he does very simply. He points out that farmers many thousands of years ago started selecting the seeds from plants that perform best, they would balance the harvest with what they would grow the next season.

What has followed, in just the last 100 years or so, is the targeted crossing of species, that provides traits that we “want” versus what is given to humans naturally by growing plants. While these traits can include, flavour, longevity, being seedless, growing faster and use quality it’s really only the tip of a much larger iceberg that has generated the industry of plant research.

Read more

Associate Professor Lee Hickey is a plant breeder and crop geneticist within the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at The University of Queensland, Australia. He leads a diverse research team that specialises in plant breeding innovation to support the development of more productive food crops like wheat, barley, mungbean and chickpea. This includes understanding the genetics of key traits like drought adaptation and disease resistance, plus the development of novel technologies to assist plant breeders. He has a strong interest in the integration of breeding technologies, such as the rapid generation advance technology 'speed breeding' with genomic selection and genome editing. His advice for speed breeding crops is sought internationally and the technology is now adopted by plant breeding programs worldwide, which is fast-tracking the development of improved crop varieties for farmers.

Contact: Associate Professor Lee Hickey, Principal Research Fellow, Centre for Crop Science, T: +61 7 336 54805, E:, Check out the Hickey Lab website here. QAAFI Communications: E:,  T: +61 (0)7 3346 2092, M: +61 439 399 886

Last updated:
31 May 2021